How can I missed this great drama?! All In featuring Lee Byung-hun, Song Hye-gyo, Ji-sung, in a gambling-casino-action-love drama, this is a must watch! And I think ntv7 already aired this drama in Malaysia. Sadly, my home didnt have ntv7 channel on that time. Wait, if it's 2003 then my home didnt even have a television! XD
This drama brings me back to the younger version of the actors. Lee Byung-hun recently acting in IRIS, also an action drama. He was also a character in GI Joe movie; the ninja-I-forgot-his-name. Song Hye-gyo in this drama still brings her usual personality; a sad girl in Autumn Tale except that she didnt have any fatal-illness this time. XD She became a cheerful girl the next drama: Full House. I think that drama really brings a new impression of her. Ji-Sung was first seen by me in New Heart. Later on I knew he acted in Save the Last Dance for Me with Eugene.
Few minutes into the first episode, I was kind of shocked because the hero was shot, and the story begins its flashback. Stereotypically in other dramas I watched, the hero will be dead, so I became less motivated to watch the rest. Who wants to feel excited throughout the story but in the same time already knowing that in the end, the hero died leaving heroin alone? It's like watching Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core; already knew Zack will die, but people like him more than Cloud! *sigh* But fear not, it's not the end! That was only a teaser, and it happens to be at the end of the first half (14th episode).
This drama is the story of a man named Kim In-ha (Lee Byung-hun) throughout his life, struggling to live with his love. He only good with two things: Gamble and Fights. He was a problematic students who happens to love an unlucky girl. That was the start of his miserable life; all because he wants to protect the girl. Unintentionally killed a man, he was prisoned for 6 years. After being released, he started to work as security guard at a casino, then accused falsely for murder again. He became a fugitive to America where he worked for a mafia. Twist and turns finally brings him back to Korea after becoming a pro-gambler. You can see that in this drama, his life is only for his lover, Min Soo-yeon (Song Hye-gyo). Love makes you strong huh?
Interesting part is, he has a friend, Choi Jung-won (Ji-sung). A rich one whom he really envy because Jung-won had everything. Watching movie in the cinema when no one else around, went to a really high class hotel, a really opposite one to In-ha. Jung-won was also arrested alongside In-ha for unintentional killing, but he was lucky to have his father released him with money and put all the blame to In-ha. Growing up, he became bit by bit like his father, a cold blooded businessman.
Both of them finally became enemy over a woman, Soo-yeon. Later on, they also compete against each other in business. Looks like Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. Really cool. Actually I cant categorize Jung-won as being evil or not. The same as In-ha. In-ha being a gambler, a fighter who always resolve to fight, is actually a man who care for others; his lover, his friends and family. Jung-won who seems cruel for trying to hit on his best friend's girlfriend is actually care much about his friend and only did that to protect the woman he love.
These characters development gives me impression that people actually have a good side on them. World doesnt always black and white. White people will always be good all the time, and black people will always be bad all the time. There will be always gray area which only decided as halal or haram, but not good or bad.
One more; Dont be involved in bad thing. Once you're in, you'll always be pushed into another one. It's almost impossible to quit without a strong determination. Being the half-good guy, In-ha always resort to another crime in order to protect his friends. Sad but true. If you want to be the good guy, give it all your shot. If you want to be the bad guy, make sure you became the devil. That'll be worth your hard work.
Other characters was also interesting. Like In-ha friends, always stay true on their friendship whatever happens. Or Jin-hee with his one sided love. One lucky thing is this story doesnt follows the usual rectangle love story; Although Jung-won loves Soo-yeon, he never act recklessly. Jin-hee also accept that Jung-won doesnt love her and stayed in the back. I can say that this story focus more on In-ha/Soo-yeon love story and gambling/hotel business world.
The only disappointment in this drama are:
1. There are too much flashbacks!
Damn, they put flashback scene like every 15 minutes! And the same scene over and over. I get tired of watching the same lines, and it's always the sad tear-jerking scenes.
2. Song Hye-gyo still a crying actress.
She still brings her personality from Autumn Tale. Lost her lover and still cannot forget him although he was officially announced dead. I guess that was Korean love story typical plot, right? XD Cant they make her being unloyal and went to Jung-won after In-ha was announced dead. That'll make the plotline became more exciting! XD
3. Las Vegas was the only example of gambling business.
They mentioned Las Vegas as the gambling business example over hundreds time. In the meeting room, on the golf field, hotel lounge. Cant they come up with something else? I knew every character was involved in gambling business, but can you believe that they have the same idol: Steve Win? Another excessive repetition.
4. Undeveloped characters and scenes.
I like to see how Jung-ae who first loved In-ha turns her back to him and went to Dae-soo instead. I guess Dae-soo's love made her really love him. Quite a cute couple. If they develop their love story a bit like SoEul couple in Boys Over Flower, it'll be nice.
Jin-hee also had little time on-screen, maybe due to her being passive over Jung-won. Usually co-actress got more time on-screen by being sad and drinking in the bar over the guy, but not for her =P. Maybe a little development will bring more excitement to this drama. Something like, she should encourage In-ha and Soo-yeon to be together, so she can have Jung-won =P
The scene where In-ha became pro-gamblers also felt uncomplete. Suddenly he won the championship and returns back to Korea. I knew he was learning poker and being good at it, but there was no scene of him winning the preliminary round or whatever. Suddenly he was like an already-champion-gambler challenging World Poker Series final. T___T
There are too much characters brought into the story, but undeveloped as if they only came Touch 'N Go. Complete this scene and get lost. Wtf?
5. Useless scenes
I hate In-ha's uncle scene in the room with all the cabaret girls doing useless thing. I mean, if you delete those scenes, there'll no change to the story at all!. I knew sometimes this off-scene brings some humor, but really, it's useless. Better use that screen time to develop characters I mentioned above.
One thing I hate about interesting drama is the ending always sucks. I dont say All In ending was sucks, but it's abrupt. A sudden stop. What happens to Jung-won business? Did he success over the project bidding? What about Michael Jang? Did he died after being betrayed by In-ha? It was really an abrupt one. In-ha quit from being Michael Jang's puppet and then live happily with Soo-yeon. Full stop. Argh~
Overall, I can give this drama 7/10. First half was fast-paced, but still smooth. Second half of the drama starts to be draggy, with all the excessive flashbacks. I think it's because of the episodes extension. The rating is high, so they want to make it longer. Really fucked up. Dont extend it if you cant make it better. Damn~
A little useless Trivia:
1. Kim Tae-yeon acted in this drama as Jenny, LOL.
2. Choi Jung-won is actually the name of Jung-ae's actress.
3. Swallow the Sun was said to be All In 2. Not a sequel, but more like another story with the same Director and Producer, plus some original characters like Ji-sung. Choi-ran, etc.
Need to study, tomorrow will be an exam. =P